Thursday, May 11, 2006

Duh Vinci Code

One of the biggest movies of the summer is sure to be The Da Vinci Code. I read the book, and I could write pages and pages about the mis-information in the book. If you are interested in that, there are plenty of sources which will provide a thorough debunking of the pseudo-historical premise of the book. In the end, it is easier to list the factual content of the book than the misinformation. The facts in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code can be summarized as follows:
  1. London is in England
  2. Paris is in France
  3. Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter

Some people will defend the book and the movie on the basis that it is a work of fiction, and therefore by definition, is not factual. However, Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, on a page right after the title page asserts that "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals are accurate." Thus, from the beginning, the book claims to be more than pure fiction. Brown went to great lengths to muddle fact and fiction, leading readers to believe that the premise of the book is plausible and supported by fact. The following is the most recent review on the Amazon web site. It is typical of many of the other reviews:

Once I began this extraordinary book, I could not put it down. "The Da Vinci Code" is so much more than a gripping suspense thriller. Dan Brown takes us beyond the main plot and leads us on a quest for the Holy Grail - a Grail totally unlike anything we have been taught to believe. With his impeccable research, Mr. Brown introduces us to aspects and interpretations of Western history and Christianity that I, for one, had never known existed...or even thought about. I found myself, unwillingly, leaving the novel, and time and time again, going online to research Brown's research - only to find a new world of historic possibilities opening up for me. And my quest for knowledge and the answers to questions that the book poses, paralleled, in a sense, the quest of the book's main characters. What a trip! What a read!
People are looking to this fictional work in their search for truth. It is a sad sign of our times that people will accept a novel as their source of truth, but we should not be surprised. The Apostle Paul said that this would happen:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (II Timothy 4:3-4)

One response is to blame Dan Brown for writing the book, or Hollywood for making the movie. The reality is that these people are simply responding to a need for answers to spiritual questions, and this need exists because the Church is failing to provide those answers. As believers, we are partially to blame for Brown's success at passing off fiction as fact. We, as a group, don't know what we believe and why we believe it, and we are not adequately prepared to offer something better than Brown's myth.

I see this movie not as a cause for outrage, but as an opportunity to address real issues which people struggle with every day. The interest in this book and movie shows that people want to know who God is, who Jesus is, and what He means to their lives. The Church has the only real and lasting way to meet this basic need. The response of the Church will distinguish Christianity from other world religions: we will not take to the street in angry mobs burning cars, hurling stones, and killing people in rage at the perceived indignity. But we must go one step further than simply refraining from these reactions by proclaiming the truth that people are searching for: Jesus offers grace and forgiveness which changes our lives and gives us fellowship with God.

The tag line of the movie is "Seek the truth." If people are willing to honestly seek the truth, I am confident that fiction will be revealed as false, and the truth of the Bible will stand. If this movie causes people to embark on this kind of search, it is a good thing.

But we, the Church, must be ready to address the questions which will arise and help to direct people to the truth of the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Instead of looking for truth in a fictional novel, perhaps they should start in the non-fiction section of the library. Then examine the Bible in the light of historical reality. Most importantly, we need to let them see that Jesus is more than a hisorical figure. He is alive and active in our lives today.

This is how Paul instructed us to respond:

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. ... But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (II Timothy 4: 2,5)
Let's not miss the opportunity that this movie provides, but use every opportunity to let the light of Jesus shine. When we present the truth to the world, they won't need to look to pulp fiction pretending to be fact for their answers.

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